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My Reading Life

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  3,928 ratings  ·  834 reviews
Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is a voracious reader. Starting as a childhood passion that bloomed into a life-long companion, reading has been Conroy’s portal to the world, both to the farthest corners of the globe and to
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Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Susan
Mr. Conroy loves words. He loves their flow, their tumble and play. And he isn't afraid to use them. I learned this when I first start reading his fiction with its exultant, flowery phrases, with its parallels to his own life. This nonfiction book tells me why he writes as he does.

Although titled My Reading Life, this book is also about his writing life and his life in general. The fifteen chapters each address a different person or book or time that ultimately shaped who he is and how he writes
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Kathy
This book is the type of book that I love and hate simultaneously. I literally found myself hanging on every word (and they are such magical, illustrious ones)as I slowly turned the pages, fearing that I might miss yet another pithy, entertaining statement from Mr. Conroy. OK, so the only hate aspect of my relationship to this book is the arduous task of noting all I wanted to remember with post-it flags and highlighter marks, not to mention looking up a few words whose meaning I obsessively had ...more
Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading*

I fell in love with this book about books – it wasn’t perfect, but it came as close as I’ve found to explaining a deep love of all that is books and reading, shooting at it from different directions. Pat Conroy may be wordy, but he writes beautifully and clearly loves books, shaping his life around them. And he does it in nifty ways – influences on him people-wise, place wise, life wise, and books themselves.

In order it starts with his childhood, and what a fascinating perspective that was for a
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Lormac
In all of my reading life, I have never read a Pat Conroy book. I couldn't tell you why - probably because I saw "Prince of Tides" and thought "yuck" which may (or may not) have been a complete misjudgment on my part. So when a friend gave me "My Reading Life" as an especially thoughtful Christmas gift, I did not know whether I would love his writing or hate his writing. Turns out a little of both.

Conroy himself admits his prose can be viewed as overwrought, and I cannot agree more. Here is a sa
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Kip
I had a two year period where I loved reading Conroy's emotional male novels, then I overdosed and haven't enjoyed him since. But, even if you're tired, now tire, of his writing or have always found him overwrought and overdone, there's no denying that he's led an amazing life and is a great lover of books. His enthusiasm for books, reading, and their relevance to living is infectious, the people he talks about are wonderful, and there are some great book recos and stories. Great book to dip in ...more
Connie
Pat Conroy pays homage to his mother, teachers, booksellers, and writers that shaped him into being a very popular Southern author. He loves the beauty of language, and reads a poem every day to jumpstart his creative juices before he begins writing. Conroy writes, "I grew up a word-haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have a confession to make: I have never seen the movie The Prince of Tides. I have also not read a single book by Pat Conroy, a southern author who is prevalent in every book store I walk into in my three-state radius.

That is going to change now. After reading his love letter to books, and to the people who led him to those books, I want to see how his reading has been the breeding ground for the books he has produced.

Unfortunately, the book does not have an index of books he discusses, and I'
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Sidna
This is classic Pat for Conroy fans. As usual, he reveals a lot about himself and his family. When I told one of my friends that I was going to meet Pat Conroy and have him sign my book she asked if it was a list of books he has read. He names very few books in this book. Instead each of the 15 chapters is devoted to a person in his life, beginning with his mother, who encouraged him to read or to write.

I agree with him on many things: his love of story (he says, rightly so, that many authors t
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Tiffany Reisz
"The safe writers have never interested me...Safety is a crime writers should never commit unless they are after tenure or praise. A novelist must wrestle with all mysteries and strangeness of life itself, and anyone who does not wish to accept that grand, bone-chilling commission should write book reviews, editorials, or health-insurance policies instead." -Pat Conroy
Jan Rice
An autobiography or memoir via the books of one's life--are there more of these? I've only read one previous book of this sort and it was good, too. It also struck me that Pat Conroy was born the same year as me--actually, two days before my husband's birthday. Much of the book also took place in Atlanta, very, very close to where I live now and lived back in the '70s. He lived on Rosedale, behind Callenwolde for part of his childhood, and wrote about that in Prince of Tides. As a young writer, ...more
Mike
If you enjoy the books of Pat Conroy, you will enjoy this book. If you don't, you won't.

My first introduction to Pat Conroy was through the movie "Conrack," starring Jon Voight. I had never heard of Conroy, much less read him. However, the movie sent me in search of him. When I found the paperback movie tie-in, I was hooked.

From that time forward, I have read Conroy's books. I have met him, spoken with him, and seen him several times on the book circuit. His voice is a familiar sound to me, and
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Donna
I'm a huge fan of Pat Conroy. I've read almost everything he has published. He is a master storyteller and can create such vivid characters who are forever memorable. I think what I love the most is the way his books are journeys that his characters travel and they always end up changed.

I liked this insight into his upbringing, how he became a writer and what he shared about his career. People impacted his life in a way to foster his writing; others impacted his life and gave him something to wr
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Joseph
Have just read a few chapters, but the work is as expected. . . wonderful.
If you're a writer who takes his calling seriously, this is a book for you.


FINAL REVIEW:

In the beginning, all writer's work is derivative.As we mature in this most wonderful art of creating a fictional world as interesting and informative as the one we see around us,we develop our own style.This (hopefully) new and exciting way of viewing the world comes from a variety of sources.One is , of course, our own experiences.
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Michael
Pat Conroy is my favorite author, he is an amazing storyteller. The first book I read by him was "South of Broad.", I remember being mesmerized with the language and how he wrote his characters with so much depth and substance. Since then, I have read his other novels and he never failed to captivate me with his writing. All of his characters are so rich and lively and his writing style is beyond description, he makes you feel sympathetic with the characters he promises to have a lasting effect ...more
Kathy
Take a deep breath. This is a long sentence and probably the longest review I have written. If you love your mother, if you love to read to yourself and to your children and grandchildren, if you like anything else by Pat Conroy, and if you love goodreads because you can read what friends and strangers have thought about what you read and you can follow those people to see what else they have read that you might also enjoy, then you will love My Reading Life.

Here's a brief list of my reading hi
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Kelly Hager
I’m a big fan of books about books and reading, and this book is one of the reasons. Each chapter is about a different book, author or inspiration for Conroy in his life or in his work.

Those include Gone With the Wind (LOVE!), James Dickey (who was actually Conroy’s teacher), his English teacher (who introduced him to Joan Baez and The Catcher in the Rye) and his mother, a bibliophile to rival all bibliophiles.

Ultimately, you probably already know whether you want to read this. If you don’t lik
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Teresa
This is the Pat Conroy I loved. I have loved his books until reading "South of Broad" which I found to be a "big hot mess" - not up to my high expectations of a beloved author. But, Pat Conroy is at his best here in describing the books and people that have influenced his writing life. I loved it.

I particularly loved the chapter in which he writes a tribute to his mother and how she directed him in his love of books, the chapter about the relationship with a teacher who saved him - Gene Norris,
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Edith
I really, really, really liked this book!

While looking for something else on the Biography shelves at the library, I totally chanced upon this title and I thank my lucky stars that I did! I spent the better part of a complete day with this wildly enthusiastic lover of words and books and consequently, have added to my 'must read' list.

First, I want to read some of Conroy's other books--especially The Water is Wide, The Losing Season (memoirs), The Great Santini, and The Prince of Tides (fictio
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thewanderingjew
I thought this would be an interesting little read and I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to secure a bound manuscript copy from the publisher.
Using a variety of books he has read, over his lifetime, Conroy lets us explore his life with him. We meet his very abusive father whom he learns to love; his mother, who feels second class because of her lack of education and therefore reads everything she can get her hands on, including his reading lists, who yearns for an education and imparts
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Marialyce
I have always enjoyed the books that Pat Conroy has written. While his characters and his prose can often be sardonic, I love the way he moves you with all the frailties and humanness of his subjects.

Mr. Conroy tells in this book, of his undying love for readng. He firmy holds to the belief that one needs to read to be educated and to be constantly in love with the world around you. His two particular favorites War and Peace and Gone With the Wind receive special treatments in the annals of all
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Laura
I love books. I love the feel of them in my hands, the smell of the ink printed pages, and I love devouring all of those words on the pages. I also love to read books about books. I just finished My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, about ten minutes ago and I want to start at the first page of it again. I have to admit that I have never read one of Conroy's novels and now I know that I must. His language and writing make me want to read and read as much as I can take in and never stop. I love hearing ...more
M.M. Mayle
Pat Conroy's MY READING LIFE is an invitation to go backstage, look under the hood, examine the blueprint, and witness the discovery and development of a truly great writer. But there are no special effects to demystify, no magic tricks to unravel, and no shortcuts to discover. A gift may be given, but greatness has to be earned.

Mr. Conroy's revered mother deserves much of the credit for opening his young mind to the sound of superior story telling. She has been a recurring presence in his writi
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Sydney Young
I love to read authors' autobiographical books, especially when they details the books that were influential in their lives. I can already tell that I am going to love this book for its rich depth in that detail. I find it interesting that the entire second chapter is about Gone with the Wind. What Pat says about it reminds me of my own journey with that book and movie (as well as my mom's journey). I think it is interesting that he devoted an entire chapter to it, as I have been afraid that the ...more
Joanie
This book has had me thinking for days. It got inside my head and under my skin in ways I didn't expect.

First off, there's the dedication "This book is dedicated to my lost daughter, Susannah Ansley Conroy. Know this, I love you with my heart and always will. Your return to my life would be one of the happiest moments I could imagine." I have not been able to stop thinking about these lines, wondering what Pat Conroy did to cause his daughter to stop talking about him. What would it take for my
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Leftbanker
I will begin with this quote from Pat Conroy talking about his love for the writing of Thomas Wolfe in his book My Reading Life.

“Do I not see his flaws? Of course I do but I see my own with much greater sadness and embarrassment.”

I feel the same about Pat Conroy. I’ve read almost everything he has ever written beginning with The Lords of Discipline which is his best, most coherent novel. By the time I knew who Thomas Wolfe was I think it was too late for me to begin reading his novels. I just co
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Jim
Curse you, Pat Conroy! Another night and most of a day immersed in one of his offerings, My Reading Life; so often have I been consumed by his words and mesmerized by how he retroactively tickled hidden ivories of my own life. And he is wrong when he asserts he never taught after his experience on Daufuskie; perhaps he did not stand before a gaggle of students, but his books entertained and instructed me from the start, a gripping sojourn begun with The Lords of Discipline, a gift from my mother ...more
James
"Each day of my life begins with a poem that will unloose the avalanche of words inside me, that secret ore that, once published, will sit before me disguised as the earth's jewelry." (p 329)

I believe each reader has his own story about the books that have been important in his life. This book is Pat Conroy's story and as a writer of several successful novels and memoirs he has created a beautiful paean to those books that influenced his life and writing. And with the books his memoir includes t
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Maicie
Pat Conroy puts into words why GR users love books...or rather the words in books.

I am envious of the author's experiences and imagination and his talent for sharing through writing. I not only got a new list of books I want/need/must read but my enthusiasm for reading hit an all new high.

Off Topic:
I'm a great fan of The Great Santini which is based somewhat on the author's life with an abusive father. I was a little saddened at the end of My Reading LIfe when I realized he wasn't able to overc
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Joan Colby
A fascinating group of anecdotes which touch at least tangentially on Conroy’s reading life. One of the best is his tribute to his remarkable English teacher Gene Norris who remained a lifelong mentor. Another is a genuflection to and assessment of Thomas Wolfe who was a seminal influence on Conroy’s writing. He makes a valid point on style in defense of Wolfe’s and his own tendency to overreach and express an excess of poetic passion—both men are word-infatuees—as opposed to the spare style of ...more
Andres
Sep 25, 2010 Andres rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: arcs
I love any book that rhapsodizes about books, and this one fits the bill. Add in Pat Conroy's verbal acrobats and unique sense of humor and you have a book that I will read again when the actual book comes out (I read an advanced reader).

Anyone who knows Conroy's terrible childhood will know how important his mother was to shaping his life, and by extension the books she (and he) cherished. He covers everything book related in his life, from his mother to teachers to booksellers, to writing his
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Pat Conroy is the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) befo ...more
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The Prince of Tides Beach Music South of Broad The Great Santini The Lords of Discipline

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“Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.” 63 likes
“Here is all I ask of a book- give me everything. Everything, and don't leave out a single word.” 51 likes
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